ALICENSED labour recruitment firm has quietly closed down a training facility in Sen Sok district where a woman was injured while trying to escape last weekend.
Police reported on Sunday that Battambang native Vann Synoun, 30, suffered minor injuries after she fashioned a rope out of various pieces of clothing and tried to rappel down the side of the three-storey VC Manpower Company building. They said she had not been detained by the company but had attempted to leave without asking for permission beforehand because she was convinced the company would say no.
Keo Thea, director of the municipal Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Bureau, said yesterday that the training centre had been boarded up on Tuesday, and that the trainees had been relocated to a larger VC Manpower centre also located in Sen Sok. He said the relocation had nothing to do with Vann Synoun’s accident.
“I used to hear from the company director that [the facility] is not such a good environment for his workers to stay. That’s why they moved them to another branch, which is the head office and is bigger,” he said.
Keo Thea said he did not know how many trainees had been relocated, and company officials could not be reached for coment. But Vann Synoun said yesterday that there had been about 200 trainees living in poor conditions in the centre.
“I had to sleep with about 200 workers in a long room on the floor, and the food was not good or healthy,” she said.
Speaking from a bed in a private clinic, Vann Synoun said she had been badly injured during her escape attempt, contradicting reports from police.
“I fell unconscious for two days after I rappelled down from the centre, and I don’t know who saved me and sent me to the clinic,” she said.
She said it was true that she had tried to escape from the training centre because she had missed her family, but that the company had refused to let her leave without repaying the US$800 it claimed to have invested in her.
“I asked to leave the centre, but the director said I can only leave if I give him $800 for the documents they completed for me and for staying in the centre for four months,” she said.
An Bunhak, director of the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies, said companies were required to inform the Labour Ministry before relocating trainees. “I think if they move the place or close the company, they have to inform to the ministry and if they did not, it means that they did it illegally,” he said.
But Nhem Kimhouy, a Labour Ministry official, said yesterday that although the ministry had not been informed ahead of time, there was nothing wrong with the relocation.
“It is normal for a recruitment company to move their workers to another place because they think the old place is not good for their workers to stay or bad luck for their company,” he said.